Assistance with Moving House and Property Guidance

15 May 2020

This guidance note applies to all clients of Battens Solicitors Limited for whom current transactions are being conducted by our Residential Property, Commercial Property or Agriculture and Rural Land Departments following the recent statement issued by the Government in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Clients should ALL please read the following guidance note carefully.

Battens Solicitors Limited’s highest priority is the welfare of its staff and in acting in the best interests of its many clients at all times. Many clients are currently involved in residential and commercial property transactions which are, of course, at various different procedural stages, and the purpose of this guidance note is to clarify the position we, Battens Solicitors Limited, are taking in accordance with the current advice from the Government in connection with property transactions following the coronavirus outbreak. Please consider the following note carefully in relation to how this may apply to your transaction,  though this largely applies to those clients physically moving between properties or using buildings on land.

IF YOU HAVE ALREADY EXCHANGED CONTRACTS TO SELL OR BUY:

When you exchange contracts, a completion date is set and is legally binding. All completions set to take place on a particular date, where you have exchanged contracts, should proceed where possible - even if this requires seller clients to vacate their property and purchaser clients physically to move into their new property (as they are under contract to do so). People must still follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus. Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being. If you are unable to move house, as seller or buyer you may be in breach of that contract with the other party to that contract. If you are unable to complete your sale or purchase due to the coronavirus affecting you or the other party to the contract, please contact the member of staff dealing with your transaction immediately to discuss the options available so that we can advise you as to your rights. We will proactively work to ensure that all parties and those involved within chain transactions are still able to complete those transactions on the day completion is set to take place. If a party to a transaction or within a chain of transactions has become infected with the coronavirus, we will need to discuss this with you further after discussions with law firms involved in the chain as to the way forward. Rest assured, a member of our staff will remain in contact with you regarding the completion of your transaction.

IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY EXCHANGED CONTRACTS BUT ARE LIKELY TO COMPLETE WITHIN THE NEXT THREE WEEKS (UPON ADVICE FROM YOUR LAWYER ACTING):

Battens Solicitors Limited is mindful of the Government’s rules relating to the current lockdown in place across the United Kingdom. From the 13th May 2020, the Government has stated that property sales and purchases may continue to take place. Estate agents have been told they may re-open and that house viewings and inspections may once again commence. That being said, social distancing must still be observed at all times, and currently you are still not permitted to invite persons from another household into your home to assist with your house move. You are able to book a removal company to assist with your move, however, and many are now operating again.

ADDITIONAL POINTS TO NOTE:

·  It is advised that you double check with your removal company they are still operating and can physically move you, your household and your belongings. Check this as early as possible and again at least the day before your completion date and on the day of completion.  

·  The current lockdown rules state that gatherings are limited to 2 people. You must consider this when deciding whether to instruct Battens Solicitors Limited to proceed to exchange contracts and fix a completion date and you must consider who in your household will be able to assist you to move.  

·  Where mortgage funds are required to assist with your purchase transaction, we shall check with your mortgage lender that mortgage funds will be released in time for completion and it may be necessary for us to advise you not to proceed to exchange contracts and complete your transaction until such funds have arrived in our client account, in which case the period between exchange of contracts and completion would be a very short one.  

·  You should note that some Surveyors are undertaking property visits or surveys but not all are, so that may also slow the process or in some cases prevent it proceeding.  

·  If you are made redundant from your employment or have a change in financial circumstances, you must inform your mortgage lender if you are purchasing with the assistance of a mortgage in case this affects your mortgage offer at all.  

·  If you are at risk of being made redundant or facing an adverse  change in your financial circumstances you should carefully read the terms of your mortgage offer as it is possible for lenders to withdraw your offer and not advance funds for completion.  

This guidance note is correct as of 14th May 2020. It shall continue to be reviewed in line with instructions from the Government and is therefore subject to change. 

For further guidance, we advise clients to check the following page on Gov.uk  

Battens' Buying, Selling and Tranfering Property page can be found here.

Battens' Commerical Property page can be found here. 

Battens' Agriculture and Rural page can be found here.